Tessera BV   

Translation Industry Scams

Identity theft

Target: agencies
(but the freelancers are the ones whose good name is affected)

We receive CVs and job applications pretty much on a daily basis that appear likely to be cases of identity theft. The details of an existing translator are copied from somewhere on the net and then touted round agencies. Sometimes the whole name is changed, often only the first name (presumably in the hope that we'll think "Oh, that sounds familiar") and sometimes with the name left unchanged. They are then accompanied with a cover letter that is generally full of mistakes and often exactly the same for a number of applicants. Crucially, they all have an untraceable, free mail account (generally with Gmail or Hotmail). They then attempt to fob off Google Translate or other machine translation output as their own, hoping to have been paid by the agency before the end customer complains.

Advance overpayment

Target: interpreters

Arrangements are made for an interpreter to be available for the visit of some dignitary or company hotshot. They accept your quotation and then pay it (usually by cheque) before the VIP arrives. It is then credited to your bank account, although most banks don't make it very clear that this is only provisional on the cheque not bouncing six weeks later... Then for whatever reason, you are asked to make a repayment (the guy is coming for a day less, not coming at all, the admin bod put an extra zero on the end or got it in the wrong currency, etc.). If you would be so kind as to repay the excess by return of post? Needless to say, doing so means kissing your money goodbye


Fake PayPal refund

Target: freelancers

A similar approach to the 'advance overpayment' scam, but backed up by fake e-mails purporting to come from PayPal. The translation is done and delivered, payment is made, e-mails confirm it and again there is an overpayment followed by a request to send the difference back. Only then do you discover that the original payment was never made in the first place.


  • Never refund anything until the original payment has been properly and definitively cleared. Any real customer will understand this
  • Don't use links in e-mails to confirm payment has been made. Always go in by typing a known address into your browser, and look for the padlock confirming it's a secure site

Fake test translations

Target: freelancers

An agency will often ask freelancers to do a few hundred words as a test to prove they are competent. "Hey," thinks the scammer, "why not get ten of them each to do one page of this ten-page document? Then I've had it done for free!" Personally, this sounds like a lot of effort for not much reward to us, but we've heard of it.


  • Confirm it's a bona fide agency as far as you can
  • Don't do large test translations
  • Get them send you ten pages and tell them you'll do one at random.

Website by Password IT, 2006-2016
This site uses cookies for analytical purposes
Tessera Translations BV
Language Services